Media Research Meatheads
Given how obsessively they insist on identifying Rob Reiner as "Meathead" when he offers political opinions, the Media Research Center (and its now-defunct "news" operation CNS) clearly can't separate an actor from a role he hasn't performed in decades.
By Terry Krepel
A 2016 post by Callista Ring complained that Reiner (accurately) noted that there's a "serious strain of racism" that runs through the followers of Donald Trump. Her headline references "Meathead Rob Reiner" and and huffs, "Like Hillary Clinton, Rob Reiner would toss an awful lot of Americans into a 'basket of deplorables.' Or in Meathead’s case a bunker of Archies." Ring didn't really bother to disprove Reiner, instead whining that Reiner was "reeking of liberal elitism" and writing things like "What a surprise, another liberal accusing people of racism simply for not agreeing with him."
The "Meathead" dismissals came with more frequency in the following couple of years:
Graham served up an April 2019 post headlined "'Meathead' Rob Reiner Still Cries Collusion: 'The Russians Robbed the Bank,' Trump Hid Them." Graham also dropped the insult in his piece as well, claiming that "'Meathead' has dramatically changed his spin to suggesting special counsel Robert Mueller had a 'very, very narrow charge' to investigate."
In a July 2021 post after the Supreme Court upheld an Alabama law that banned "ballot harvesting," Abigail Streetman wrote, "American actor and filmmaker, Rob 'Meathead' Reiner, wrote in a tweet that 'Access to the ballot box is being threatened' and 'Democracy is on the line.' Although, we don’t live in a democracy so he’s obviously confused about more than just our country’s voting system." Actually, a republic is a form of democracy, so Reiner is correct.
Mark Finkelstein complained in an April 2022 post: "Appearing on Jonathan Capehart's MSNBC show on Sunday, Rob 'Meathead' Reiner said that our country's democracy is 'hanging by a thread,' at that if Biden AG Merrick Garland doesn't indict Donald Trump, it's 'the end of democracy.'" This was repeated in a few days later by Geoffrey Dickens under the subhead "From the Mind of 'Meathead.'"
That same day, Joseph Vazquez groused that "Insufferable 'Meathead' Rob Reiner had a conniption over the possibility that a Musk takeover of Twitter could mean the return of former President Donald Trump, whom the platform banned last year."
A tweet from "Director and Actor Rob 'Meathead' Reiner" was included in a June 2022 post by Nick Kangadis showing how "politicians, celebrities, activists and other political talking heads have lost their collective minds in the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade."
A July 2022 post by Graham actually tried to justify right-wingers like him slinging the lazy insult at Reiner:
Actor and director Rob Reiner spurred another hearty round of "Meathead" rebuttals on Twitter. But this time, it isn't one of his furious proclamations that Trumpers are a "cult." Instead, Reiner sounded like he was in a cult. He tweeted on Friday that President Biden's "record of accomplishments so far" is unmatched in modern history.
Trying to justify a lazy insult doesn't make it any less lazy, Tim. And indeed, Graham's laziness continued. Graham used his Nov. 4 column to lazily spread the "Meathead" description to all non-right-wing media in an pre-election attempt to deflect from the extremism of Republicans:
We don’t have a Mainstream Media. We have a Meathead Media.
That's simply a rehash of ConWeb criticism of Biden for calling out MAGA extremism -- which Graham never actually rebutted but, instead, merely complained was said aloud. He then rehashed another right-wing grievance about the Capitol riot hearings:
They want to run our country exactly the way they have run the House January 6 Committee. There are two legitimate political parties, the Democrats, and the Cheney-Kinzinger Republicans. Both are deeply committed to the belief that the actual Republican Party should be dismantled.
But Graham never explained why MAGA Republicans are more legitimate than the "Cheney-Kinzinger Republicans," or why there should be no accountability for anyone involved in instigating or participating in the insurrection. In place of that was more grievance-hopping:
The Democrats and their repeaters in the press don’t actually want the Cheney-Kinzinger Republicans to succeed, either. See how Cheney and Kinzinger won’t be in the House in 2023, and how the Democrats cynically supported what Biden calls the “extreme MAGA Republicans” in primary contests against Republicans who voted to impeach Trump over January 6. Of ten Republicans vote to impeach, four retired and four were defeated in primaries. Only two are on the ballot.
As ConWebWatch has documented, Graham and his MRC repeatedly freaked out over cross-party primary meddling when Democrats did it, but had no problem with Rush Limbaugh's "Operation Chaos," which encouraged cross-party primary meddling by Republicans. He also forgot to mention that his MRC cheered Cheney's primary loss.
Graham went on to complain that "There was no 'fact-checking' and no opposing view" of Biden's speech -- but neglected to mention that he hates fact-checkers because they have a bad habit of exposing the falsehoods of Republicans, or that his employer's own "news" division, CNSNews.com, is not big on offering opposing views to statements made by Republicans.
Graham concluded by whining:
["Ex-Republican" Matthew Dowd] compared Republicans to a devastating hurricane, and the media are like a weather man saying “oh, by the way, a hurricane is gonna hit in three days. Good night, and [I'm] not telling you what damage it's gonna do, what you can do to prevent it."
Graham is hypocritically criticizing the "meathead media" for doing exactly what the MRC does. Who's the real meathead here?
'Meathead'-ism at CNS
The MRC's now-defunct "news" division, CNSNews.com, was also a big fan of dismissing Reiner's opinions with the "Meathead" appellation.
An anonymously written August 2020 CNS article -- a "news "article, not a blog post -- carries the headline "Rob Reiner (AKA ‘Meathead’): ‘The President of the United States is a Lying Racist Criminal’" and tells us in the lead paragraph that "Actor and director Rob Reiner, who played ‘Meathead’ in the 1970s television program 'All in the Family'" said this.
The article also added that "Reiner frequently issues Tweets attacking Trump," but it did not explain why this particular tweet was somehow more newsworthy than the others. At no point does the anonymous CNS writer dispute Reiner's characterization of Trump, just complain that it was said.
The article was bizarrely illustrated with an 11-year-old photo of Reiner pictured with Hillary Clinton. Didn't Getty Images -- from which CNS pulled that photo -- have any more recent photos of Reiner that would be more timely and relevant? Or is CNS giving up on the pretense that it's different from its MRC parent and is now pushing the same partisan political attacks?
Another August 2020 article by Craig Bannister put "Meathead" in the headline and described Reiner as a "producer and left-wing activist" who "starred as a character nicknamed “Meathead” in the iconic sitcom 'All in the Family.'" In an October 2020 article, Bannister described Reiner as a "political activist and Filmmaker" but surprisingly did not mention his "All In The Family" role.
An anonymously written January 2021 article, complaining that Reiner called Donald Trump a "lifetime criminal," described Reiner as having "played Archie Bunker’s son-in-law (“Meathead”) on “All in the Family” and went on to become a Hollywood movie director" and illustrated it with a black-and-white still shot of Reiner and Carroll O'Connor, who played Archie Bunker, in a scene from "All In The Family" -- then irrelevantly added that "Reiner explained in a 2012 interview with the Huffington Post that he does not practice a religion." The anonymous writer didn't mention that Trump doesn't practice a religion either.
An anonymously written February 2022 article about Reiner's comments on the death of Rush Limbaugh, however, returned "Meathead" to the headline and described Reiner as "the actor who played Archie Bunker’s son-in-law Meathead on 'All in the Family,'" but illustrated the article with a file photo of Reiner with Hillary Clinton.
In an April 2022 article complaining that Reiner called Republicans "secessionists" who "stand for nothing but White Nationalism." Bannister described him as a "liberal activist and Hollywood producer." But an anonymously written July 21 article noting that Reiner called Trump a "criminal sociopath" returned to describing Reiner as having "played the son-in-law of Archie Bunker on 'All in the Family'"and was illustrated with another "All in the Family" file photo.
A February 2022 article (anonymously written, of course) grumbled that Reiner, "the actor who played 'Meathead' on 'All in the Family,' sent out a tweet on Wednesday claiming that former President Donald Trump 'has committed the single worst crime in presidential history'" by trying to overthrow the government. An August 2022 article by Bannister -- which highlighted how TV host Bill Maher "sparred with radical liberal activist and Hollywood mogul Rob Reiner" -- was the only one of these to carry a byline and the only one to refrain from calling Reiner "Meathead."
An anonymously written Nov. 16 article referring to "‘Meathead’ Rob Reiner" in the headline groused:
Actor Rob Reiner, who played Michael “Meathead” Stivic on “All in the Family” has sent out a series of tweets over the last three days calling for Attorney General Merrick Garland to indict former President Donald Trump.
CNS kicked off 2023 with a couple more lazy hits on Reiner. An anonymously written Jan. 25 article referred to "Rob ‘Meathead’ Reiner" in the headline:
Rob Reiner, who played Archie Bunker’s son-in-law Meathead on “All in the Family,” sent out a tweet earlier this month declaring his opinion that “Donald Trump is a pathologically lying criminal.”
And there was anonymously written "Rob ‘Meathead’ Reiner" article on Feb. 16:
Rob Reiner, the actor who played Archie Bunker’s son-in-law “Meathead” on “All in the Family,” sent out a tweet on Tuesday obscenely expressing his view of former Vice President Mike Pence.
Trump arguably did not need to go to the Capitol when his speech beforehand sufficiently incited the crowd.
That was the only pushback on Reiner in any of these articles. There was also no explanation of why CNS (not to mention the MRC) specifically attacks tweets from Reiner when ignoring him might be a more prudent path -- unless, of course, it thinks Reiner is easy clickbait, which makes CNS even lazier than we thought.
CNS did this one last time before its April shutdown, in an anonymously written (of course) March 22 article, which made sure to prominently place "Meathead" in the headline:
Rob Reiner, who played Archie Bunker’s son-in-law (“Meathead”) on All in the Family, sent out a tweet on March 18 stating that the reason he joined Twitter was to have a platform for attacking former President Donald Trump.
The anonymous writer did not fact-check Reiner's tweet, or was it explained why the tweet was so important that it deserved its own "news" story -- aside, of course, from yet another opportunity for CNS to try to lazily dunk him by throwing around the word "Meathead." And, yes, the article was illustrated with a nearly 50-year-old photo of him and Carroll O'Connor from "All in the Family."
CNS may be defunct, but it's clear the MRC is still having issues separating an actor from a role he hasn't played in more than 40 years.